Check out our YouTube Channel for previous

videos of our weekly sermons!

Andrews UMC YouTube Channel

New Year, New You: Food

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Today continues a New Year’s resolution theme for January, with probably the most-frequently resolved issue:  food. Before you put your hopes and dreams in this message, let me be clear:  I am not a nutritionist.  I haven’t come up with the next diet fad.  I am a pastor, and my area of conviction has little to do with your BMI and much to do with your soul.  But the state of your soul has something to do with you relationship with food… and that’s what I want to talk about. Paul starts this passage – this letter to the Christians in Corinth – with a couple “maxims” related to the body, and one in particular has to do with food.  Maxims were short sayings that were a staple of Greco-Roman culture; J. Paul Sampley calls them “epitomes of truth, of commonly shared convictions or perceptions… they typically function as a ‘given.’” A good analogy might be the sayings we throw around today, like “don’t reinvent the wheel.”  A phrase like that and serves as a kind of proof in and of itself. If you open up to 1 Cor 6 you’ll easily notice these, because they’re in quotes.  Here’s my favorite, one I could easily see us Americans saying:  “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food.” YES, Greco-Roman maxims!  Food is the best! I’ve always liked food, but most especially, sweet things.  When I was younger I had a maxim of my own:  “Every meal should come with dessert.”  In the absence of a traditional sweet treat, I was known to substitute...

New Year, New You: Forgiveness

Mark 1:4-11 I’m glad to be back in the sermon-writing saddle after being out on vacation last Sunday.  More than just Sunday – my family was out-of-pocket for 8 full days. In our world of work, school, and church, 8 days is a really long trip.  Long enough to have a cornucopia of celebrations:  5 Christmases, 3 extended family meals, an anniversary party, a reunion with old friends, and new year’s eve.  Oh, and a stop for ice cream almost every day – because what’s vacation without ice cream? By the time we rolled back in to town (with Chick-fil-a milkshakes in hand, because peppermint chocolate chip), even the kids were recognizing we couldn’t live this way forever.  “When do we get to go back to school?” Are you feeling it, too? Maybe you, too, are ready for something better for you.  Maybe the last month of celebrations made your jeans uncomfortably tight… or your credit card debt uncomfortably large.  Or maybe it’s something bigger.  Maybe there are things about 2017 that you’d like to leave in last year.  Maybe you want 2018 to include less bad choices and more good ones. If so… this month at Andrews UMC is for you. For the next four weeks we’re going to be taking a look at common new year’s resolutions; topics like food, money, and decisions.  But today we’re going to lay the foundation for all of it with an important first step.  And forgive me, I have little kids so the only way my brain can think it is to sing it:  Let it go, let it go… To...

Manger Scene: Jesus

Tonight we gather in the dark, in the quiet last hours before Christmas morning.  Some of us are here to sing the songs and hear the Scripture like we do each year.  Some of us are here to sit next to family or see old friends or just to be together with others who believe.  Many of us are here for the special moment when we’ll light our candles and sing “Silent Night.” But the reason we are all here, really – the whole reason for Christmas – is a birth.  A normal, everyday birth. Can you believe it? When God chose to come into the world, it wasn’t with a flash of light or by a cherubim-drawn chariot.  God arrived the same way we all arrived on this planet:  through a nine-month pregnancy and a painful delivery and the first amazing cries of new life. It was a normal birth. And yet… there were signs from the beginning that it was not a normal birth.  A pregnant young woman, not yet married… a man, who would have divorced her quietly except for what the angel said… the shepherds, sent to see a savior born in a manger… the wise men, who came from outside the boundaries of Israel to find a king born under a star… This was a normal birth… and yet it wasn’t. What kind of birth is this? From the beginning, Mary was trying to figure that out.  Luke tells us that she does a lot of “pondering.”  When the angel first appeared to her – “Hello!  Favored one!” – Mary “ponders” (Luke 1:29).  When...

Manger Scene: Wise Men

Matthew 2:1-12 As we place the next-to-last figures around the manger scene, I need to teach you two things.  The first is that – as idyllic as our manger scene looks – all these people weren’t actually there at the same time.  When Matthew tells us about the wise men, he says they visited Mary and Joseph and their new baby in a house – not a manger. But we usually think of them all together, don’t we?  Maybe that’s not so wrong; Matthew and Luke tell us they were all involved in Jesus’ birth.  And they do make a pretty nice set. There’s something interesting about their togetherness, though, that’s worth more careful consideration. That leads me to the second thing I want to teach you today.  I want to teach you a song.  From Sesame Street.  Because so many good life lessons come from Big Bird and the gang, and this one will help us as we think about these wise men. With this particular song, Big Bird might stand in front of a table of items – bowls of bird seed, maybe – and sing… And we kids watching at home deduce that the really big bowl of bird seed is different from the moderately-sized bowls.  Not hard, right? We can play that same game with our manger scene today, because today we’ve added new characters that are… different. We started with Joseph – an ordinary Jewish man.  Then we added Mary – an ordinary Jewish woman.  Then came the shepherds – ordinary, Jewish blue-collar workers. Today we add… the Wise Men. One of these things...
Manger Scene:  Shepherds

Manger Scene: Shepherds

Luke 2:8-20 After placing Joseph and Mary around the manger, today we continue building the set with the shepherds. Shepherds were ordinary guys. Ordinary guys who worked with animals, to be more specific (thanks, Robert Tannehill). They were the kind of person who could visit, say, a manger and not feel out of place. They were average dudes who were on the clock at a time when most people are asleep. If Jesus were born today in Cherokee County, the “shepherds” might have been some folks working third shift in one of the mills still running around here – or maybe even working overnight at the casino. Good but ordinary people, making ends meet by doing what they could in a limited job market. Obligated to be awake at a time when most people are asleep. It might have been around their nocturnal “lunch break” when suddenly – An angel! Luke tells us they were “filled with fear” (2:9). If these are ordinary folk, then I can only imagine their reaction is… colorful. “Don’t be afraid!” the angel says. “I’m here with good news! A savior has been born – right here, in little old Andrews! And here’s how you’ll know: He’s not at Murphy Medical Center, not even in someone’s warm bedroom, but in the barn that sits behind the Quality Inn.” (Now, I know some good folks at the Quality Inn, and I doubt they’d send a family about to have a baby out into the cold… but bear with me for the sake of the story.) Next come more angels! A whole chorus, singing hymns! And...

Manger Scene: Mary

Luke 1:26-38 Today we continue building our manger scene with Mary… the one who found herself unexpectedly pregnant and had faith enough to accept it. I have to believe that finding out you’re pregnant is always kind of shocking.  When I discovered I was pregnant with Eleanor, our oldest, it was very much planned for – Alan and I had been married a couple years and wanted to have a little Alan or Mary Jr. But it’s funny, seeing the positive result on that pregnancy test still took us off-guard.  I used my shaky hands to call Alan at work, hoping he could come home for lunch.  “No, I’m tied up today,” he said, not realizing the mind-blowing news I wanted to deliver. So I just blurted it out:  “Well then… I’m pregnant!”  When he finally came home and we got to talk it over together, we just laughed in a kind of hysterical disbelief.  We were trying and hoping for this end result… but now that it had worked, it felt a lot like our bluff had been called. And that’s with an expected pregnancy. So how much more shocking was Mary’s pregnancy?  No at-home test, no “trying,” even.  Just an angel showing up and saying, “Hello, Mary – God’s favored one!  God is with you!” Mary was likely just a girl (women got engaged around the age of 12), but she shows a mature intuition with this glowing greeting.  Luke 1:29 tells us she was “greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (1:29). Here’s how I interpret...